“You could be righ’,” his voice snatched at the air with vicious intent, “an’ mayhap I’ll be forced to pay for ma sins one day down tha road, but I’ll take ma chances.”  His sun battered face tilted back to soak in the glory of the blue sky, and his right hand scratched the salt and pepper beard hanging low from his chin.  “I’ll not miss out on tha spoils o’ tha sea.  I’ll not miss out on the glitterin’ and sparklin’ treasure I can get ma hands on.  An’… I’ll not have the likes o’ you judgin’ me.  Not today.  So, will you be havin’ tha plank or tha sword?”

Charles Cordan III, a man of some renown and wealth on the British Isles, looked up at his captor with equal parts fear and disbelief.  When he found the voice to reply, he stumbled over his words, “I had hoped you would seek some sort of ransom for my safe return…  You know who I am, don’t you?”

“Aye,” the pirate responded briskly, dropping his gaze from the heavens back to access the irritating voice sprawled at his feet and taking up room on his deck.  “You’re tha man I’m about to kill.”  A glint of mischief sparked from his eyes and carried down the gleaming steel of his saber as he pulled it from of its sheath.

“My family would pay handsomely for my release!”

“And tha beasts o’ tha sea will eat handsomely when we toss your corpse o’erboard.  You should have kept your tongue from wagging on about sins an’ redemption, a mistake you won’ be makin’ again.  Now I’m givin’ you tha honor of choosin’ how you leave this world, decide ‘fore I lose ma patience: tha plank or tha sword?  There are far worse fates you could suffer.”

Charles’ face contorted from fear to rage.  “You are no gentleman.  You are no man of honor, no matter how you try to pretty up your words. How dare you threaten me.”

“How dare you bring up ma sins an’ need for redemption on ma ship, ma home.”  He pressed the sword against his captive’s throat until the man winced.  “We all mus’ make our way in this world, and none of us have tha righ’ to force our moral values an’ choices on anyone else.  You may think I’m a sinner, and I may be a sinner, but in ma house, you should have kept your thoughts on tha matta to yourself.  Again, I ask, tha plank or tha sword?”

“It’s not too late,” Charles whimpered, dropping his gaze to the salt stained boards.  “You could change your ways.  You could ask for forgiveness and we could both live on.  Do you hear that?  Both of us.  There is no need for anyone to die.”

“You could be righ’ and mayhap there is no need in the next action I take, but our lives aren’t built to run on needs alone.  There is greed an’ and pleasure an’ vengeance to consider.  An’ honor too.  You say I am no man of honor, and yet that is just your opinion, based on your understanding on tha word.”  He deftly removed the saber from the man’s throat, and leaned in so their faces were mere inches apart.  “Life needs death, and getting to pick how you face that is a great honor.”

With a swift kick, the pirate launched Charles Cordan III over the railing of his ship to disappear below the dark waves lapping at the sides.  There was no scream.  There was only the shock and silence of surprise.  There was no wild thrashing.  There was only a single splash and then, after a sporadic outburst, the bubbles rising to the surface ceased altogether.

“An’ that is another mistake you won’ be makin’ again.”


21 thoughts on “honor

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